In order to avoid unfair prosecution for tampering with evidence, the statute requires that the tampering be intentional, with the purpose of making the evidence unavailable or impairing its value in court.
Tampering with evidence is a third-degree felony. It may come as its own charge, or it may accompany other charges.
A scenario in which tampering with evidence may be its own charge is if a police officer suspects that you have narcotics and he or she sees you intentionally discard them.
The charge may accompany another charge, such as a possession of marijuana charge, if the officer alleges to have seen you discard the drugs but the drugs are later recovered. Then you can be charged with tampering for discarding the marijuana (which is evidence of a crime), as well as the possession itself once the package is recovered.
This charge is usually built on weak assumptions by police. A good criminal defense attorney may be able to get this charge dismissed if retained prior to arraignment. Especially if the accused is only charged with tampering with physical evidence.
I mean, if the allegation is that the accused tampered or destroyed a piece of evidence that was never recovered, how does the State prove that the accused was ever in possession of that evidence in the first place? It doesn't make sense legally and should not be filed.
Unfortunately, many times the charges are filed.
I represent clients charged with crimes in Miami-Dade and Broward. If you or a loved one are in need of the services of a criminal defense lawyer, call me to discuss your case. All consultations are confidential.